2018 Call for Summer Research Assistants

The Peterson Marine Community Ecology Lab is seeking to interview and select eight to ten (8 – 10) highly motivated volunteer research assistants for summer 2018 to work on several dissertation and monitoring projects. Research hours can be used towards research credit hours with Dr. Bradley Peterson. (High school students, please take note: the minimum age to be considered for a volunteer position with us is 17).

Volunteers will be asked to commit at least two days per week from late May/June through August. Exact starting and end dates are negotiable.

We specifically look for people who are comfortable and enjoy being outdoors, especially in the field on boats and in the water. Volunteers should be in good physical shape and enjoy hands-on work. Ability to swim is a requirement. Certified divers are strongly encouraged to apply.

If interested, please send your CV/resume and a list of available meeting times to Diana Chin and Stephen Heck (diana.chin@stonybrook.edu, heck.stephen@gmail.com). Please note that it is unlikely that you will work exclusively on one project, though you might work primarily on one or two. We think that exploring a variety of research questions and methods is essential to your scientific development!

Summer Research Topics:

Steve Heck: predator-prey interactions among fish, crabs, and bivalves

Steve will be researching how black sea bass influence trophic cascades that govern the survival of bivalves such as blue mussels and bay scallops. Experiments will be conducted both in mesocosm tanks at the Stony Brook University Southampton Marine Station as well as in the field in Shinnecock Bay, NY.

Alyson Lowell: seagrasses and ocean acidification

Alyson will employ a myriad of field and laboratory approaches to investigate how carbon dioxide enrichment affects carbonate chemistry in seagrass communities and whether seagrasses will serve as a refuge for marine organisms in a high CO2 world. Students working with her will be exposed to exciting field and laboratory techniques and will be taught to run successful ocean acidification experiments. Volunteers who are field oriented and SCUBA certified are encouraged.

Kaitlyn O’Toole: water quality and bio-optical modeling

This summer Kaitlyn will be continuing work on a bio-optical model (generally having to do with how much light reaches the bottom of the water column), which will be used to target feasible areas of seagrass restoration. This involves plenty of fieldwork in both Peconic and Great South Bay: water sampling weekly, SCUBA transect dives for site characteristics, productivity and epiphyte measurements in seagrass, sediment sampling, tidal/wave current velocity measurements, and drone imagery of seagrass sites. Kaitlyn is typically out on the water 1-3 times a week, depending on the weather. You will learn how to collect and filter whole water samples, use the equipment to measure water column properties, learn about and snorkel (or SCUBA if certified) around seagrass, learn sampling techniques for seagrass, water, and sediments, and obtain boating experience.

Leah Reidenbach: food webs, invertebrate physiology, and ocean acidification

Leah will be developing a method for using underwater photomosaics as a tool for building food webs in seagrass ecosystems. She will compare food webs across a eutrophication gradient to test if food web characteristics can determine differences in ecosystem stability. Volunteers will get experience with fieldwork and sampling animal tissue for stable isotope analysis. She will also be testing the effects of ocean acidification and temperature on mud crab physiology. Here, volunteers will get experience with setting up ocean acidification experiments and testing animal physiology responses such as respiration and calcification.

Dylan Cottrell: seagrass community ecology

Dylan will broadly focus on species distributions, edge effects, habitat complexity, and/or seagrass community responses along a stress gradient (namely eutrophication).

Other Monitoring and Research

The lab will be deploying eelgrass- and shellfish-based restoration projects and conducting assessments of water quality, seagrass, and fauna in Great South Bay and Shinnecock Bay. For example, Diana Chin will be leading the Peterson lab’s benthic surveys for the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP).

We hope to hear from you soon!

Early Birds

We will post a more formal announcement here in March sometime as we refine our summer 2018 needs. But for the early birds:

Each year, we select volunteer research assistants to work with us in the laboratory during the summer. Some of the projects are designed for graduate students’ dissertation research (e.g. predator-prey interactions, ocean acidification, water quality). Other projects help to support the lab and include water quality assessments, hard clam condition assessments, and restoration projects in Great South Bay, Shinnecock Bay, and Peconic Bay.

What do we look for in volunteers? You can work at least two days per week from May/June through August, give or take. You can swim and are in good physical shape. You don’t mind if your work environments include inside, outside, on land, on the water, and in the water. You enjoy hands-on activities – as in, hands in water, hands in mud, hands covered in algae and seagrass, hands on live marine invertebrates. You are flexible about who you work with, as it’s unlikely you will work exclusively on one project. You may or may not have a car, a plan for summer housing, water gear (e.g. wetsuit, mask, boots), or a dive certification. These last things are not required but are really helpful (in order of helpfulness!) to those who have them.

If interested, please contact Diana at diana.chin@stonybrook.edu or Steve at heck.stephen@gmail.com. Including a CV/resume would be great!

You don’t have to be a Stony Brook student, though many of our volunteers are. (High school students, please take note: the minimum age to be considered for a volunteer position with us is 17.) Stony Brook students can use their volunteer hours towards research credit hours with Dr. Bradley Peterson. We can also help highly motivated Stony Brook students with independent research projects apply for URECA so that they are paid for conducting their own summer research (the 2018 deadline for URECA is March 9!). A URECA project usually has something to do with one of the graduate students’ research, which makes things easier, but that’s not a requirement. If you’re interested in this, go ahead and contact us at the email addresses above.

Welcome New Graduate Students!

We are excited to welcome Leah Reidenbach and Dylan Cottrell to the lab in fall 2017!

Leah completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida in 2013 where she worked with policy makers and educators to produce high school level education materials on the topic of sea level rise. This was followed by a marine lab internship at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation where she researched the effects of eutrophication on seagrass and macroalgae, as well as macroalgal physiology. Next, she completed her Master’s degree at California State University, Northridge in 2017.  Her thesis was on the effects of ocean acidification and eutrophication on the green bloom-forming macroalga Ulva spp.

Dylan completed his undergraduate studies in 2013, whereupon he served in the Peace Corps for two years in Malawi. Since his return, he has been working on a program to commercially farm seaweed.

Benthic Ecology Meeting 2017

Our recent trip to the 2017 Benthic Ecology Meeting in Myrtle Beach, SC shows how big the Peterson Lab family is growing!  Brad, six current or recent graduate students, and four alumni attended to talk science with our fellow benthic marine ecologists.

You can tell which of us are experts at this.

Here’s a list of our posters and presentations from this year’s Benthics:

Carroll, J.; et al. Not a fun threesome: the prevalence, impact and interaction of boring sponges and pea crabs on oysters.

Chin, D.W.​; et al. The influence of chemosymbiotic clams (Lucinidae) on sediment in tropical seagrass beds.

Heck, S.; et al. Exploring the indirect effects of the presence of black sea bass (Centropristis striata) on the survival of bay scallops (Argopecten irradians).

Lowell, A.V.; et al. Modulating pCO2 in situ: a novel approach for a complex world.

Kulp, R.E​.; et al. Soft-vegetative and hard-bottomed biogenic habitats alter the foraging efficiency of predators in a species-dependent manner.

O’Toole, K.; et al. Development of a bio-optical model to optimize seagrass restoration within Long Island estuaries. (poster)

Stubler, A.D.; et al. With or without nutrients, sponges are boring: the effects of eutrophication on bioerosion.

Tinoco, A.I.; et al. Effects of Hurricane Sandy on Great South Bay, Long Island: assessing water quality, seagrass and nekton communities. (poster)

2017 Call for Summer Research Assistants

The Peterson Marine Community Ecology Lab is seeking to interview and select six to eight (6 – 8) highly motivated volunteer research assistants for summer 2017 to work on several dissertation and monitoring projects. Research hours can be used towards research credit hours with Dr. Bradley Peterson. (High school sudents, please take note: the minimum age to be considered for a volunteer position with us is 17).

Volunteers will be asked to commit at least two days per week from late May/June through August. Exact starting and end dates are negotiable.

***We are also seeking one person who would be able to work specifically on a predator-prey project between June 5th and July 28th.

We specifically look for people who are comfortable and enjoy being outdoors, especially in the field on boats and in the water. Volunteers should be in good physical shape and enjoy hands-on work. Ability to swim is a requirement.

If interested, please send your CV/resume and a list of available meeting times to Diana Chin, diana.chin@stonybrook.edu. Alternatively, feel free to contact a lab member regarding a specific topic below. (Please note that, with the exception of the predator-prey project, it is unlikely that you will work exclusively on one project. Our philosophy is that exploring a variety of research questions and methods is essential to your scientific development!)

Summer Research Topics:

Contact: Diana Chin, diana.chin@stonybrook.edu

chemosymbiotic clams and their interactions with sediment, seagrass, and predators

Contact: Steve Heck, heck.stephen@gmail.com

predator-prey interactions (fish, crabs, bay scallops) and seagrass community structure

Contact: Alyson Lowell, alyson.v.lowell@gmail.com

free ocean carbon enrichment (FOCE) systems and impacts of ocean acidification on seagrass communities

Contact: Kaitlyn O’Toole, kaitlynotoole@gmail.com

bio-optical models of potential seagrass habitat in Great South Bay and Peconic Bay from water quality data

Contact: Rebecca Kulp, rkulp1@gmail.com

predator-prey project: do shellfish habitats emit chemical cues that mask the presence of alternative prey for mesopredators?

Other Monitoring and Research:

Beyond the above, the lab will be deploying eelgrass- and shellfish-based restoration projects and conducting assessments of water quality, seagrass, and fauna in Great South Bay and Shinnecock Bay.

Call for Summer Research Assistants

The Peterson Marine Community Ecology Lab is seeking to interview and select six to eight (6 – 8) highly motivated volunteer research assistants this summer to work on several dissertation and monitoring projects (for a partial list of projects, see below). Research hours can be used towards research credit hours with Dr. Bradley Peterson.

Volunteers will be asked to commit at least two days per week (preferably consecutive days) from June through August. Exact starting and end dates are negotiable.

***We are also seeking one person who would be able to work intensively with Amanda Tinoco on a specific project (examining the effects of predator acoustic cues on mud crab consumption of blue mussels) five days per week for the month of June.

We specifically look for people who are comfortable and enjoy being outdoors, especially in the field on boats and in the water. Volunteers should be in good physical shape and enjoy hands-on work. Ability to swim is a requirement.

If interested, please send your CV/resume, research interests, and a list of available meeting times to Diana Chin, diana.chin@stonybrook.edu. Alternatively, feel free to contact a lab member regarding a specific project listed below. (Please note that with the exception of Amanda’s experiments in June, it is unlikely that you will work exclusively on one project. Our philosophy is that exploring a variety of research questions and methods is essential to your scientific development!)

Summer Projects:

Contact: Rebecca Kulp, rkulp1@gmail.com

I will be looking at how prey mobility affects foraging efficiency of crustacean mesopredators across varying habitat types and densities. Prey preference between mobile and sessile prey will also be evaluated using consumption rate, handling time, and encounter rate.

Contact: Diana Chin, diana.chin@stonybrook.edu

This summer’s research will involve a field experiment to evaluate whether the commensal relationship between seagrass and a species of chemosymbiotic clam (which “eats” sulfide in sediment) changes across a gradient of light exposure to the seagrass. I will also be using field tethering experiments to look at whether seagrass can provide a predation refuge for the clam.

In addition, I’m looking for someone who wants to come to Panama in fall 2016 to do tropical clam and seagrass research!

Contact: Steve Heck, heck.stephen@gmail.com

This summer, I plan on looking into how several species of larger fish predators influence community structure in seagrass ecosystems. More specifically, I aim to look at how larger fish predators govern the feeding activity and abundance of crustacean mesopredators that prey on bay scallops and how this influences the survival of these bivalves. This will involve a combination of field and mesocosm experiments.

Contact: Amanda Tinoco, amandaisabeltinoco@gmail.com

My research will focus on the effects of predator acoustic cues on the foraging behavior of mud crabs on blue mussels. Work will consist of helping set up and break down mesocosm experiments as well as going out in the field to collect organisms for my experiments. This work will be primarily completed during the month of June.

Other Monitoring and Research:

Beyond the projects above, the lab will be conducting water quality assessments in Jamaica Bay, Great South Bay, Shinnecock Bay, and Peconic Bay; hard clam condition assessments for Great South Bay; and a shellfish-based restoration project in Great South Bay.

Spring 2016 Update

It’s that time of year! The Peterson Lab (Brad, four current graduate students, three lab alumni, and three current or former undergraduates) recently attended the 2016 Benthic Ecology Meeting in Portland, ME. As always, there was much science, dancing, and general merriment as we reconnected with old friends and dove into the latest news from our colleagues in all areas of benthic marine ecology.

The Peterson Lab at Benthics 2016 + our newest lab member, Rosie Furman!

The Peterson Lab at Benthics 2016 + our newest lab member, Rosie Furman!

A special feature this year was a session of talks organized by Brad and given by scientists who have all been mentored as interns, master’s students, PhD students, or postdocs by Dr. Ken Heck of Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who was Brad’s PhD advisor.

Here’s a list of our posters and presentations from this year’s Benthics:

Cashin M.J.; Kulp, R.E.; Peterson, B.J. Preference in prey type and size of C​repidula fornicata​and ​Mytilus edulis ​by the mesopredator ​Dyspanopeus sayi​. (poster)

Chin, D.W.​; Peterson, B.J. A commensalism between awning clams (S​olemya velum​) and eelgrass (Z​ostera marina​) mediated by sulfide­oxidizing bacteria.

Floros, N.J.​; Kulp, R.E.; Peterson, B.J. Evaluating effects of habitat type on foraging efficiency.

Furman, B.T.; Hall, M.O.; Merello, M.; Durako, M.J. Field notes on the recurrence of ​Thalassia testudinum ​die­off in Florida Bay.

Heck, S.M.​; Tinoco​, A.I.; Peterson, B.J. Exploring how a suite of predators influences the vertical spatial distribution & survival of bay scallops.

Kulp, R.E​; Peterson, B.J. Comparing functional response curves across a structural density gradient with increasing intraspecific competition.

Peterson, B.J. “All I want to do is HIDE around, Sally”: Ken’s evolving thoughts on habitat complexity and species diversity.

Stubler, A.D.; Peterson, B.J. Ocean acidification accelerates dissolution and bioerosion in a coral rubble community.

Tinoco, A.I.; Heck, S.M; Peterson, B.J. Effects of Hurricane Sandy on Great South Bay, Long Island: Assessing water quality, seagrass and nekton communities.

Vlasak, T.J.; Kulp, R.E.; Peterson, B.J. Comparing the survivorship of ​Dyspanopeus sayi ​in slipper snail and seagrass beds in Shinnecock Bay, New York. (poster)